Dental implant surgery is a procedure during which a metal screw-like post is inserted in your gum tissue for the purposes of anchoring a crown or other artificial tooth. Implant surgery offers a welcome change to those with missing teeth or compromised areas of the mouth, and it helps to fortify bone tissue and surrounding teeth as it literally bridges the gap between real teeth.
There are several stages to implant surgery, the beginning of which is the most invasive. During the post-insertion procedure, your dentist will drill down into your jaw bone, preparing it to receive the metal post that will anchor the new tooth in place. According to Marc Lazare, dental implant expert from NYC, this procedure is quite invasive, it takes weeks to months of optimal healing time to ensure that all systems are a go for placement of the new tooth.
While you wait for the process of osseointegration, or bone fusion with the metal screw, to take place, you’ll likely be given strict recommendations for food and drink as directed by your dentist. These directives are to be followed meticulously, as any introduction of food and drink that could be destructive and abrasive in nature could change the course of your whole implantation procedure.
The following timeline is suggested for optimal healing and creating the best atmosphere possible for osseointegration. Check with your dentist or oral surgeon to see if he has additional recommendations for helpful foods as well as foods you should avoid during the healing process. Adhere to your medication schedule, stay hydrated, and take your healing process seriously, as you are setting the stage for future dental health:
Up to six hours after surgery
It is generally not recommended to consume any solid food after surgery for about 6 to 8 hours, or until the anesthesia and local anesthetic has worn off completely. During this time, it is acceptable to consume some of the following liquid foods:
● milkshakes, juice
● creamy or bland soups
● mashed potatoes
After anesthesia has worn off
After that six-hour mark, it is generally safe to eat some soft foods, as long as you commit to chewing away from your surgical site. Some of the foods you can safely consume in this transitional period include:
Oatmeal is a delicious and nutritious alternative to toast, cereal, and waffles, all of which can pack a painful crunch. Avoid oatmeal with nuts, fruit chunks, or granola, as chomping down on these unexpectedly could cause some pain.
Yogurt, soft dairy foods
Dairy products, particularly soft ones, are delicious options for healthy snacks. Packed with calcium, they contribute to the healing process by fortifying bone tissue and strengthening the enamel on your existing teeth. Another great and delicious option for you would be macaroni and cheese; not only is it filling, but it’s also easy to eat as well.
Soups with soft noodles and cooked vegetables are excellent options for getting your protein intake while at the same time feeling like you’ve eaten a more substantial meal. Risotto, a rice dish containing broth and other liquids, is another excellent choice for a simple meal.
Potatoes are a wonderful option for meals during this time, as they are so versatile in the way they can be cooked and presented. Boiled, baked, mashed, fried, you name it – top with flavors of your choice like cottage cheese, salsa, butter, sour cream, and you’re good to go for a healthy and delicious meal.
Much like potatoes, eggs become very soft when cooked. Whether you choose to boil, scramble, fry or poach them, they are very surgical site friendly and provide a valuable source of protein by which to speed up the healing process. Eat for lunch or dinner—they aren’t just for breakfast anymore!
When can I move on to more solid foods?
Over the course of the first week, you can begin incorporating solid foods back into your diet. Avoid anything too hot, cold, spicy, or sharp, as it can aggravate your surgical site and actually delay your healing process. As healing continues, note anything that causes you pain or discomfort, and eliminate that from your food intake until you are fully recovered.
Don’t skip meals!
It is important not to skip meals—you must keep your body nourished with healthy, wholesome foods in order to facilitate your healing process. Talk to your doctor about any specific questions you have regarding post-operative care and nutrition, and be diligent about following their recommendations for best healing results.
Keep up the good work!
Following this timeline of good nutrition and practicing good self-care while healing will yield the best results. Your commitment to restoring your oral health will result in excellent overall health!
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